February is Dating Violence Awareness Month, a national effort to raise awareness about the impacts of dating abuse and encourage communities to support teens and young adults in seeking healthy relationships.

Though these conversations are important to have year-round, February gives us the opportunity to shine a light on dating abuse and inspire conversations about healthy relationships to stop violence before it starts.

An important part of growing up is learning how to have healthy relationships – with peers, with friends & family, and with partners. While adults may not always see youth and young adult relationships as serious, they can still provide opportunities for youth to grow and learn things like how they want to treat someone they care about and how they want to be treated, what their boundaries are and being able to recognize the boundaries of others, and learning that healthy relationships are based on equality, mutual respect and trust, and healthy communication. Even young love should be healthy love.

As young people navigate relationships, adults can support them by creating a safe space for them to share their experiences and ask for support. Here are a few things to keep in mind when having conversations (source: Love is Respect).

  • Be supportive and curious, not judgmental
  • Validate and empathize with their experiences
  • Be open to what they are telling you, even when it’s hard to hear
  • If the relationship is unhealthy, focus on behaviors and not the person
  • Offer resources for them to learn more

Even though no relationship is perfect, your relationships should make you feel good – building you up instead of tearing you down. It should make you feel happy, safe, and supported, and abuse should never be a part of it.  If you or someone you know is in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, and is seeking help or support, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or chat with an advocate through Love is Respect by texting LOVEIS to 22522. If you are in the Hays/Caldwell county area, call HCWC at 512-396-HELP(4357)

Still unsure if your relationship is healthy? Take our Healthy Relationships quiz!

Author

  • Kiara Nicholson

    Kiara is a full-time cat lady with a passion for social justice. At HCWC, she is the Primary Prevention Coordinator – facilitating conversations with adolescents and adults on fostering healthier relationships and ways to make the world a safer, more equitable place. Kiara is a proud alum of Texas State University where she received her bachelor’s degree in Applied Sociology. Her passions include social change, youth activism, LGBTQ activism, and crafting. She doesn’t like taking pictures, but she does love Bitmojis.